Has anyone ever said the phrase, “but I didn’t mean to” to you after they hurt you or did something that had unintended consequences? I believe every parent has probably heard that on at least one occasion from their child. Of course it doesn’t change the fact that it did happen, and now it has to be dealt with. But what if there was a way, where we could be diligent and prudent about the actions we take or the words that we speak? How much pain could we spare others and ourselves?
These were just some of the thoughts that ran through my head as I read Proverbs 7 this morning. Solomon here is writing to his children and encouraging them to listen to his words of instruction, keep them in their mind, and watch how they live. In verse 4-5 Solomon says, “Say unto wisdom, ‘Thou art my sister; and call understanding thy kinswoman’: that they may keep thee from the strange woman, from the stranger which flattereth with her words.” Solomon is telling his children, “listen to what I am telling you and understand what I am teaching you.” Solomon as any parent should do, was trying to keep his children from making the same mistakes he had made in his life. Solomon is known as the wisest person to ever live. People came from other countries just to hear Solomon’s wisdom. Yet Solomon is also known for, “Solomon loved many foreign women” (1 Kings 11:1). Now understand what that verse means. It isn’t talking about not loving people other different races or nationalities. Rather, it is the recording of Solomon’s downfall because he ignored God’s instructions. God had told the Israelites not to marry outside of the Jewish race, because the other nations didn’t know God or worship God. God knew that if they married outside of the faith, the Israelites would have their heart pulled away from God, and they would worship false gods. For the record, they didn’t listen and God was proven right as Israel forsook the one, true God and chased after many idols. The same instruction is given to Christians in the New Testament in 2 Corinthians 6:14 when it says, “do not be unequally yoked.” Again this is not saying you can only marry your race as sadly many have misapplied this verse. It is Paul saying exactly what God had said to Israel. If you are a believer, you should only marry another believer. The reason is the same as God told Israel, if you marry outside of the faith, instead of you influencing them, there is a greater chance of them influencing you and pulling you away from God. Solomon knew this all too well, and so in Proverbs 7 he is telling his children, “please learn from my mistakes. Listen to me and save yourself a lot of heart ache.” Unfortunately, Solomon’s sons followed what Solomon did rather than listening to what he said. And by the way, so do our children. They are more likely to repeat what they see than they are to simply do what we say. But that is a whole other topic. How does all of this apply to us?
This really starts to come into focus in verses 7-8 which say, “And (I) beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding, passing through the street near her corner; and he went the way to her house.” Whether Solomon is recounting his personal history or just telling a story to illustrate his point can be debated, but the point is the same. There was a man who went out for a walk. We don’t know why he went out for a walk. Maybe he just needed to clear his head, or maybe he couldn’t sleep, or maybe he just wanted to go for a walk. It doesn’t matter why he went out for the walk, what matters is because he didn’t exercise wisdom and possess understanding, he fell into sin. I’m sure when it was all over he thought to himself, “how did this happen? But I didn’t mean for this to happen.” But what was done is done. There is no going back, there is no changing it. Now all that is left is to deal with the consequences. We can identify with this story can’t we? I’m not saying you went out for a walk and just happened to find your way into a prostitute’s house. I’m saying, you were going about your business of life, and all of the sudden you found yourself in a compromising position. You found yourself saying and doing things that you never intended to do. You have regrets, you feel ashamed, and you are wondering to yourself how did this happen? How do we deal with this when we find ourself doing something sinful, even though we didn’t have the intention to do so?
Remember the old saying, “an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of the cure”? That certainly applies here. The best way to avoid unintentionally falling into sin, is to be wise about what you are doing. In Proverbs 4 it tells us to guard our heart, because out of it flow the issues of life. Solomon is saying, guard what goes into your heart, because what goes into your heart will eventually come out through your mouth or your life. In Ephesians 6, Paul tells us to put on the whole armor of God that we may be able to stand against the devil and his schemes. In Galatians 6, we are told to bear and share one another’s burdens. This speaks of having accountability. If we guard our heart, are intentional about putting on the whole armor of God each day, and we have relationships with people who will hold us accountable for our words and our actions; then we are less likely to fall into sin unintentionally. That doesn’t mean you will be perfect. We will always sin, but we can certainly through dependence on God lessen how often we fall into sin. But what if you don’t have those things or didn’t do them and you find yourself in a potentially compromising position? Here is the good news, God did not leave you alone. When you were saved, He gave you the Holy Spirit to live inside of you to help you. And in 1 Corinthians 10:13 it says, “There is no temptation taken you but such as common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” I can’t go any further than this; the Bible does not say “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” Rather it says, “you will not be tempted above what you can handle; and when you are tempted, God will make a way of escape so that you don’t have to give in to that sin.” If you find yourself in a compromising place, stop and pray asking God, how do I get out of this without sinning? And when He reveals it to you, take it! But what if you didn’t take preventative steps and you didn’t take God’s way out? What if you fell into sin, even though you didn’t intend to? It’s simple, confess it and repent of it! Don’t act like it didn’t happen. Don’t act like it isn’t a big deal. Confess the sin to God, praise Him for His blood that gives forgiveness of sin, and ask Him to help you learn from this and not to repeat it.
Sin is going to happen. It is a fact of life ever since the Garden of Eden. We can’t pretend that we live in a perfect world or that we are never tempted to sin. But God has given us ways that we can manage it and not give in to our temptations as we depend on Him. And that is what it really comes down to, the answer isn’t you, your effort, or your actions. The answer is resting and trusting in the power and the grace of God.